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Listing agents: Who are they and what do they do?

Selling your home can be an exciting process, but it may also be an involved one. Sometimes, it helps to ask for assistance along the way. Enter the listing agent. A listing agent is a type of real estate agent who represents home sellers through the process from early renovations all the way to negotiations. Let’s take a closer look at the role of a listing agent and how they may make your selling experience a smoother (and, hopefully, more profitable) one.

What is a listing agent?

If you’ve found yourself wondering, “What is a listing agent?” you may already be in the process of selling a home. Listing agents, also known as seller’s agents (not to be confused with selling agents — another variety of agent which we’ll discuss below), help facilitate the selling process. As the name suggests, they are generally responsible for listing a property for sale and representing the home seller’s best interests. While listing is a major part of this real estate agent’s job description, their responsibilities can go beyond putting your home on the market.

Listing agent vs. selling agent: Understanding the difference

As listing agents help navigate their clients through the selling process, it may be confusing to realize that selling agents, also known as buyer’s agents, don’t directly help sell a house. The main difference between a listing agent vs. a selling agent is who each one represents. To avoid any confusion, we’ll refer to selling agents as buyer’s agents and seller’s agents (who do, in fact, represent sellers) as listing agents throughout the rest of this article. While listing agents represent sellers, buyer’s agents represent buyers as they try to find and purchase a home.

On rare occasions, you may encounter what’s called a dual agent — an agent who acts as both the listing and the buyer’s agent. As each of these roles are designed to protect the interests of the person they’re representing, it may be good to consult with a real estate professional to determine if this type of dual practice is right for you.

What does a listing agent do?

A listing agent's responsibilities may start with listing your home, but they don’t end there. Your agent will typically use their real estate knowledge to assist with most stages of the selling process. Here’s a breakdown of what they may be able to help you with:

  • Pricing: A listing agent will often do the heavy lifting on research and comparisons to help you accurately price your home for the market.
  • Appraisal and inspection: Listing agents may assist sellers in scheduling appraisals and inspections ahead of the listing so that sellers have the option to either repair any issues ahead of publishing a listing, or simply disclose any issues within their advertisement.
  • Staging and photography: Appearances are an important part of any listing or viewing process, and listing agents are likely to assist sellers in making their homes look more attractive to potential buyers. In certain cases, listing photos might be all the sellers have to go on, and the professional help from your agent may help increase showings and offers. One way a listings agent may assist is by coordinating virtual staging, which involves hiring a graphic or interior designer to digitally remove furniture and other details in a way that allows buyers to imagine themselves in the space.
  • Marketing: Listing agents will often help seller’s market their home, from writing the actual ad copy to posting the listing to an MLS (multiple listing service).
  • Networking: Most agents will employ their networking savvy and agent connections to help sellers find potential buyers.
  • Open houses and showings: Much like photographs, open houses and showings can help make a serious impression on prospective buyers. Listing agents will likely help you make sure your home looks its best before any viewings occur.
  • Negotiations: Home sellers may have trouble navigating the negotiation process, especially if it’s their first time. Listing agents can help simplify things by managing offers and contingencies, possibly even negotiating on your behalf.
  • Closing: Listing agents, like buyer’s agents, will generally be present for the closing to provide guidance to their client in the last stage of the selling process.

What to expect from your listing agent

Wondering how your listing agent’s responsibilities will play out? Well, after you’ve carefully chosen a listing agent, they’ll probably reach out to discuss your expectations for the selling process. From start to finish, this could take about three to six months. While your agent may help with staging, you’ll probably have to take care of pre- or post-staging cleanup. After you finish employing a little elbow grease (and maybe some professional help), your listing agent will tour the home, finalize the listing price and present you with a listing agreement.

Should you be satisfied with the agreement, your listing agent will coordinate any photography and staging tasks they deem necessary. After the listing’s up and the home has been shown, it may take up to several months to secure a buyer. Once that’s been taken care of, your listing agent will assist you with negotiations, the contract phase, appraisal and contingencies. This may also take a couple of months. After the settlement has occurred, you’ll be responsible for paying your listing agent a percentage of the sale price as their commission, which will likely be baked into the sale price as opposed to coming from your pocket.

Remember that any home sale timeline, with a listing agent or not, is influenced by other factors, including the general state of the housing market and details specific to the property. Consulting a real estate professional may help you learn more.

In summary

Going it alone through the home selling process may not be for everyone. Thankfully there’s qualified help available to guide you through the process. Signing with a listing agent who can help you from cleaning to closing could make a big difference when it comes to simplifying the entire experience. Remember: It’s okay to ask for help, especially if that help may increase the number of offers you receive and, ultimately, the amount of money you’re able to sell your home for.